Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Spoon - "Transference"


By Jon Stone | @jwstone

Spoon's Transference hits early this year and hits hard. This record is not a reinvention, but neither is it a rehashing. This is Spoon and Spoon, as you well know, is a darn good band. Since this record has gotten and will continue to get a ton of press, I thought I'd mention a few things to listen for that I'd hate to see overlooked:

The piano. Spoon may get categorized as a guitar band, but wow -- we don't get a lot of piano playing like this in contemporary rock. Of course, deft piano playing is par for the course in Spoon with classic tunes like "The Way We Get By" and "Don't Make Me a Target" but man, keyboardist Eric Harvey kills it on Transference.Check out the first 30 seconds of "Written In Reverse" You'll see what I mean. The next song, "I Saw The Light" has an amazing piano-based break-down section and  "Goodnight Laura" as an all-out piano ballad.

The intimacy. My penchant for the piano on this record may have something to do with this sticking out to me, but Transference -- more than any of it's predecessors -- has a house-show production quality. It feelspresent and light and close. Right out of the gate with "Before Destruction" a simple thing like vocal mic placement (Daniels must have sung and played that acoustic guitar a few feet away instead of right into the mic) creates immediate intimacy. Some records never get there; this one does in the first 1/3 of the first song.  I guess the band did their own production on Transference which, if this is the result, should be the way it gets done from now on.

The lyrics. And, really, the delivery of those lyrics. Britt Daniel is such a good singer. It's not so much that there's a poetry to the lyrics as it is that the songs on Transference, as on all Spoon records, are lyrical. Sometimes vocal style and word-choice/arrangement become a part of the musical aesthetic of a record in the way, for example, that the piano that I was mentioning earlier does. Some artists have a knack for knowing how to make a line sound good -- to smack -- over a musical phrase. Daniel Does.

Discuss: Let's hear what you think. What stands out for you in this release? How does Transferencestand up among Spoon's other records? Will we still be listening to this in a year when people start putting together their favorite records of 2010?

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